Sunday, 20 September 2020

A resurgence in top-fermenting beer

I'm so excited about my new favourite book. The one about brewing in Berlin from 1890 to 1945. Especially all the lovely, juicy, sexy numbers. I could just stare at them all day. Except my family is around most of the time. Have to wait until they've gone to bed. Then I can fully give myself fully to those filthy statistics.

A post almost exclusively consisting of numbers, then. What everyone is surely waiting for.

Top-fermenting beer might have appeared to be in terminal decline, but there was something which could turn that around. WW I.

Not quite such good news, seeing as beer production collapsed. And strengths collapsed even more in the latter war years, no stronger than 3.5º Plato. The low gravities were the reason for the upsurge in top fermentation. Bottom-fermenting yeast struggled with such weedy worts. As I posted about recently.

Blog post written, I can now relax and get stuck into some Abt.

Berlin beer production 1907 - 1918
Fiscal year bottom-fermenting top-fermenting total % bottom % top
1907 3,951,173 1,459,371 5,410,544 73.03% 26.97%
1908 3,888,680 1,232,758 5,121,438 75.93% 24.07%
1909 3,976,651 1,135,561 5,112,212 77.79% 22.21%
1910 4,034,880 1,084,602 5,119,482 78.81% 21.19%
1911 4,259,391 1,158,274 5,417,665 78.62% 21.38%
1912 4,350,958 910,976 5,261,934 82.69% 17.31%
1913 4,534,549 859,849 5,394,398 84.06% 15.94%
1914 3,840,409 719,395 4,559,804 84.22% 15.78%
1915 2,949,718 433,546 3,383,264 87.19% 12.81%
1916 1,922,751 493,940 2,416,691 79.56% 20.44%
1917 901,913 375,117 1,277,030 70.63% 29.37%
1918 Figures not published        
Source:
Beiträge zur Geschichte des Berliner Brauwesens und seiner Organisation by Karl Bullemer, Berlin, 1959, pages 80 and 114.


Saturday, 19 September 2020

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1940 William Younger No. 1

I spent the week mostly transcribing William Younger records. One of which was for this little beauty. So at least I haven't been totally wasting my time.

A year into the war William Younger was still churning out reasonable quantities of pretty strong beer.

No. 1 has lost 3º from its gravity, but it still weighs in at over 7% ABV. Not bad at all for WW II, even if it was still early days.

Only one real change has occurred to the recipe: replacing grits with rice. I’m guessing that the supply of grits wasn’t great. Younger hadn’t dropped them completely: about half their beers still contained them. I suspect that the rice wasn’t in flaked form as there still seems to have been a cereal mash.

Otherwise, the recipe is almost identical to that from 1939, save for there being a little less pale malt.

Two types of Kent hops were used, from the 1938 and 1939 harvests.

1940 William Younger No. 1
pale malt 13.00 lb 68.42%
crystal malt 120L 1.50 lb 7.89%
flaked rice 3.75 lb 19.74%
lactose 0.75 lb 3.95%
Fuggles 150 min 1.00 oz
Fuggles 60 min 1.00 oz
Fuggles 30 min 1.00 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.25 oz
OG 1081
FG 1027
ABV 7.14
Apparent attenuation 66.67%
IBU 30
SRM 16
Mash at 154º F
Sparge at 160º F
Boil time 150 minutes
pitching temp 58.5º F
Yeast WLP028 Edinburgh Ale

Thursday, 17 September 2020

The decline of top fermentation in Berlin

I seem to have been getting sidetracked onto German brewing a lot recently. Today's set of numbers come from a book on brewing in Berlin I was sent yesterday.

I've been OCRing the test and was drawn, as you are, to some of the numbers. You can never have too many numbers. This set shows the inexorable rise of bottom fermentation in Berlin. The figures show similarities with those for North Germany as a whole. The quantity of top-fermenting beer increased, but at nothing like the rate of top-fermenting beer.

Between 1860 and 1904 the amount of top-fermenting beer produced in Berlin quadrupled. But that of bottom-fermenting beer 24-fold. The proportion of each just about exactly flipped from 29% bottom to 71% top in 1860, to 70% bottom 30% top in 1904.

Remember that Berlin had a strong local style in Berliner Weisse, plus other top-fermenting styles like Braunbier and Porter. In areas with less strong older brewing tradittions, top-fermentation declined even more and more rapidly.

The huge increase in beer production was caused by a rapid rise in Berlin's population and rising living standards as a result of industrialisation

I'm surprised how much bottom-fermenting beer was brewed in Berlin in 1860. That's about the start of when Lager brewing spread to North Germany. It only really took off after 1870 with the advent of artificial refrigeration. You can see in the table that bottom-fermentation really took off in Berlin from 1875 onwards.

Beer production in Berlin 1860 - 1904 (hl)
Year bottom fermenting top fermenting total % bottom % top
1860 150,421 370,284 520,705 28.89% 71.11%
1865 324,108 544,723 868,831 37.30% 62.70%
1870 536,840 512,878 1,049,718 51.14% 48.86%
1875 1,112,283 874,317 1,986,600 55.99% 44.01%
1880 1,091,357 708,267 1,799,624 60.64% 39.36%
1885 1,492,487 805,927 2,308,414 64.65% 34.91%
1890 1,939,023 1,060,001 2,999,024 64.66% 35.34%
1895 2,379,368 1,234,153 3,613,521 65.85% 34.15%
1901/02 3,717,592 1,704,595 5,422,187 68.56% 31.44%
1902/03 3,530,581 1,546,494 5,077,075 69.54% 30.46%
1903/04 3,380,445 1,373,715 4,754,160 71.10% 28.90%
1904/05 3,590,623 1,503,659 5,094,282 70.48% 29.52%
Source:
Beiträge zur Geschichte des Berliner Brauwesens und seiner Organisation by Karl Bullemer, Berlin, 1959, pages 17 and 64.


Kettle souring

I've spent many a happy hour arguing with American home brewers that kettle souring isn't the traditional way to brew Berliner Weisse.

Franke, and his short-lived shortcut method of producing Berliner was only ever employed briefly, before being discarded for one very good reason. Which we'll get to later.

Good old Schönfeld dexcribes the method, as well as its advantages and disadvantages.

"e) Francke acidification process
Making distillery lactic acid bacteria usable for the production of Berlin Weissbier was the effort of O. Francke, who also put the process into practical use for some time. A sour starter is made from a pure culture of Bacillus Delbrücki using unhopped wort and wort, which has been run off from off the lauter tun and cooled down to 45-47ºC, is inoculated with it. Subsequent runnings must also be cooled to this temperature. The acidification takes place quickly and, depending on the circumstances, reaches a lactic acid content of 0.18-0.20% in 5-7 hours, which is enough for the formation of a sufficiently sour taste, but must not be exceeded, as this is associated with the risk that the work of the yeast is damaged both in terms of growth and fermentation ability. To prevent further acidification, the wort must then be heated to 80° C and held for one hour.

When cultivating the sour starter, it is advisable to inoculate 100 ccm of wort in the most vigorous bacterial development with new (5 l) wort, this again after reaching the highest development, which at the required optimum temperature of 45-47° C after the course of 24-28 hours is the case, is transferred to new wort (about 3–5 hl), which, with sufficient development after 24 hours, can now serve as sour starter for acidifying a brew of 30–50 hl. Inoculation material can always be removed from the sour starter for the creation of new sour starters. If the brewing does not take place continuously, but only sporadically after longer intervals, it becomes necessary to put the removed inoculum in a cold place in order to keep the lactic acid bacteria viable."
"Obergärige Biere und ihre Herstellung" by Dr. Franz Schönfeld, 2nd edition, Verlag von Paul Parey, Berlin, 1938, page 155.


Basically, you run off some unhopped wort and throw in your lactobacillus starter. Pretty simple, really. You let it sour for a few hours, then pasteurise it at 80° C. Which is a pretty high temperatue, which will also kill all the lactobacillus stone dead.

That sounds great. Much simpler than the complicated symbiotic fermentation of Saccharomyces and lactobacillus. There was just one hitch:

"Artificial (biological) acidification has the great advantage of protecting Weissbier from any kind of infection by other bacteria through the immunity it generates. It allows the abandonment of the use of the old yeast and to switch to the use of pure yeast and ensuresthe production of a long-life beer that is resistant to lengthening (Langwerden), termobacteria and acetic acid bacteria. However, these advantages did not suffice to outweigh the disadvantages, which are expressed in a shift in properties and which are considered so essential that the use of the biological acidification process, which has been tried in various practical ways, has again been abandoned. After all, the process is suitable for producing a sour and pleasant-tasting beer, even if it does not have the full characteristics of the Berlin Weissbier."
"Obergärige Biere und ihre Herstellung" by Dr. Franz Schönfeld, 2nd edition, Verlag von Paul Parey, Berlin, 1938, page 155-156.

My apologies, nut I've no idea what Langwerden is. Other than it's some sort of bacteria.

What was the problem with Francke's method? Beer produced by it didn't taste like Berliner Weisse. You could produce a pleasantly sourish beer. But without the characteristics of Berliner Weisse.

Why was that? Because it lacked the involvement of Brettanimyces, which wa responsible for an important flavour element.

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1837 Reid BS

Reid, one of the great London Porter brewers, is one I've much neglected. Despite theirs being the first brewing records I collected.

It’s fun finally getting around to these Reid’s records. Not that the Porter recipes are that weird or exciting. Just nice to do some different ones.

This is their base level Stout. Brown Stout was the first modern Stout in the 18th century. Brown because of the base brown malt, Stout because of the strength.

I won’t talk at great length about the recipe. Because it’s the usual pale, brown, black malt and pale malt. And East Kent hops. Pretty standard. London Porter brewers were pretty conservative with their grists. And we’re before the period foreign ingredients flooded in. When British agriculture couldn’t keep up with the growth in population and thirst.

Hertfordshire malt and Kent hops. They were the backbone of London brewing through the birth and blossoming of Porter in the 1700’s. And continued when to be so while Mild Ale’s star rose in the middle of the 1800’s. Until there just wasn’t enough to brew the quantity of beer the masses required.

Getting back to the beer, the simplicity doesn’t extend to the mashing scheme. Three mashes, no sparges. With a fourth mash for a return wort.

Here are the details:

action water (barrels) water temp. tap temp. time
mash 213 160º F 142º F 90
mash 114 182º F 158º F 50
mash 155 168º F 158º F 40


As you’d expect, BS spent some time in vats. It wasn’t the poshest Stout, so perhaps less than a year, but at least six months.

1837 Reid BS
pale malt 13.75 lb 77.46%
brown malt 3.25 lb 18.31%
black malt 0.75 lb 4.23%
Goldings 75 mins 3.00 oz
Goldings 60 mins 3.00 oz
Goldings 30 mins 3.00 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.50 oz
OG 1074
FG 1023
ABV 6.75
Apparent attenuation 68.92%
IBU 98
SRM 33
Mash at 150º F
Sparge at 168º F
Boil time 75 minutes
pitching temp 65º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread Ale

This recipe is in my wonderful book, Let's Brew!:




 

 

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

More on Karamelbier

More quotes from Schönfeld's wonderful book on top-fermenting beer from the 1930s. translated by me (with some help from Google Translate).

 I've not quite finished with Karamelbier. This time looking at the specific type of sugar used to flavour it.

 "The character of the added sugar is also not insignificant for the flavour profile. As is well known, the sweetness of the same increases with an increasing content of mineral salts up to a certain limit, beyond which a more and more salty-bitter taste is added. It is the chlorides of alkalis and alkaline earths present in the beet that are concentrated in the syrup and are not removed during the first crystallisation, but are attached to the sugar crystals, especially during the last crystallisation of the byproducts. These not extensively refined sugars also contain other, organic, partly colored, partly uncolored co-formulants, so that instead of being pure white they have a yellow to yellow-brown or even brown color. They are ideal for sweetening malt beer and are also enthusiastically used by breweries, provided that they are allowed under the Beer Tax Act (Biersteuergesetz), according to which sugars are permitted whose mineral content does not exceed 0.75%. Sugars that come close to this limit, however, have a clearly stronger sweetness than the purest refined versions."
"Obergärige Biere und ihre Herstellung" by Dr. Franz Schönfeld, 2nd edition, Verlag von Paul Parey, Berlin, 1938, page 137. 

 We learn that beet sugar was employed. And not very pure beer sugar at that. It doesn't sound like the sugar is being inverted, simply crystallised. Is it true that certain impurities make sugar taste sweeter? Can't remember hearing about that before.

The description of the colour doesn't make it sound very attractive stuff. More dirty. But I suppose that in a dark beer you weren't really going to notice. Ot would be a different matter in a pale beer.


Karamelbier seems to have given a new impetus to top fermentation, getting it into what had previously been Lager-only breweries. So why not bottom ferment Karamelbier? Because it wasn't allowed under the Reinheitsgebot. Sugar was only permitted in top-fermenting beers.

"With Karamelbier, top fermentation, which had sunk more and more to insignificance and could almost only be kept in medium-sized and smaller companies, was able to emerge from this relapse and to conquer an equal place in its technical development alongside bottom fermentation. Because with the Karamelbier it could and had to find its way into the larger and larger companies, from which it had been closed until then, and which now, due to its highly developed technical equipment of top fermentation, allow the care and expedient treatment it requires to the same extent as with bottom fermentation.

This upward trend was not limited to Karamelbier. At almost the same time, top fermentation began to take off in another special area. It was top-fermented bitter lager, to which the customers were more inclined and which now also gave rise to a stronger stimulation of top fermentation."
"Obergärige Biere und ihre Herstellung" by Dr. Franz Schönfeld, 2nd edition, Verlag von Paul Parey, Berlin, 1938, page 137.

That last paragraph is fascinating, hinting, as it does, about another type of top-fermenting beer that was on the up: Bitter Lagerbier. Or, as it would be called today, Kölsch or Alt. Two beers I would dearly love to learn more about. Especially their origins. I'll be getting around to that fairly soon.

Monday, 14 September 2020

Scottish beer exports

Scotland hit far above its weight when it came to beer exports. I've known this for a long time. Always nice to get numbers to back this up.

Scotland was about 11% of the UK populations, but was the source of almost half of beer exports.

Export of Beer quarter ending 31st March
  1893 1894 1895 % in 1895 population 1895 % pop.
England and Wales 64,840 49,669 64,220 48.78% 30,451,528 77.64%
Scotland 65,645 66,635 63,207 48.01% 4,209,645 10.73%
Ireland 3,911 3,880 4,224 3.21% 4,558,941 11.62%
United Kingdom 134,396 120,184 131,651   39,220,114  
Source:
The Brewers' Guardian 1895, page 121.

A considerable percentage of Scottish beer was exported: more than 10%, if we extrapolate these figure out for the whole year, Scottish brewers would have exported more than 200,000 barrels. out of a total of around 1.8 million barrels.

UK brewing stats in 1895
Country barrels
England & Wales (standard barrels) 27,248,804
Scotland (standard barrels) 1,758,879
Ireland (standard barrels) 2,670,803
UK (standard barrels) 31,678,486
Exports (bulk barrels) 432,742
Sources:
Brewers' Almanack 1928, p. 115
Brewers' Almanack 1928, page 109.


Which explains why Edinburgh could support so many breweries with a relatively modest population. Not every brewer was involved in the export trade, at least not outside the UK. A considerable quantity of Scottish beer went to England. Both types of export were important for brewers in places like Edinburgh and Alloa.

Exports were far less important, relatively speaking, for English brewers. Around 200,000 barrels out of more than 27 million in total. Which isn't to say the exports weren't important for all English brewers. Exports were important for brewers such as Bass and Allsopp, who had made a speciality of shipping beer long distances. The vast majority of English brewers didn't export any beer.

You might be surprised by the tiny quantities of beer exported from Ireland. Large amounts were being shipped to England and Scotland by Guinness, but that didn't count as exports. As soon as part of Ireland became independent, UK beer imports jumped by a million barrels a year.

Sunday, 13 September 2020

Tied houses in the 1890s (part two)

I intended a single post based on the parliamentary debate on tied houses. Too many words.

Bite-sized is my aim with blog posts. Not much more than a screenful. That's about as much as I can be arsed to read. I'm guessing not many of you have a much longer attention span.

But I digress. To sum up what's going on: MPs arguing the toss about tied houses:

"Mr. G. Russell said his hon. friends, the members for Newcastle-under-Lyme and Leicester, were to be congratulated upon having elicited from a most competent judge, the hon. member for Burton, emphatic testimony in favour of the virtue of beer sold in free houses as against that of beer sold in tied houses. That testimony, however, was contradicted by no less an authority than the hon. member for Essex. Who should decide when brewers disagreed?"
The Brewers' Guardian 1895, page 132.

Bit of vested interests going on there. Most of the trade becoming tied buggered the big Burton brewers, who had relied on quality and reputation to sell their beer, rather than owning the pubs. Bass and Allsopp got into the tied trade too late and suffered the financial consequences.

Though it seems that certain famous brewers could get their beer into some "foreign" houses:

"Mr. Usborne denied that the beer supplied in free houses was much superior to the beer supplied in tied houses. As to the number of tied houses, he believed that quite 95 percent, were practically tied. He meant that the brewer or wholesale tradesman supplied the publican or retail tradesman with the capital with which he conducted his business. The number of publichouses was so large, and the competition consequently so keen, that it was easy for a publican to leave one house, if he was dissatisfied with the quality of the beer supplied, and to remove to another. Country brewers did not compel their tenants to sell their own beers exclusively. Any tenant of the firm with which he was connected could keep Allsopp’s ales or Guinness’s stout in stock if he chose to do so. He hoped a committee would be appointed to inquire into the question, because he was satisfied, and the trade were satisfied, that then the already often-contradicted and refuted statements made with reference to the tied-house system would be absolutely and completely exploded."
The Brewers' Guardian 1895, page 132.

Guinness managed to continue the pub-free model of business right through the rise and fall of the brewery-owned pub model. No-one else did. Bass sold a lot of beer through the pubs of others, but had a tied estate of their own. 

Those two breweries had products so desirable that even Whitbread sold considerable quantities through their pubs - all bottled by Whitbread, of course.

Whitbread sales of Porter & Stout 1929 – 1938 (barrels)
  total Whitbread production Guinness & Bass total % Guinness & Bass
1929 481,663 45,595 527,258 8.65%
1930 492,605 50,064 542,669 9.23%
1931 466,218 45,245 511,463 8.85%
1932 416,623 37,977 454,600 8.35%
1933 437,102 39,192 476,294 8.23%
1934 476,205 41,528 517,733 8.02%
1935 494,715 41,773 536,488 7.79%
1936 510,260 41,344 551,604 7.50%
1937 528,725 41,353 570,078 7.25%
1938 538,914 39,077 577,991 6.76%
Sources:
Whitbread archive document number LMA/4453/D/02/16
Whitbread brewing records

A bit later, I know. But 8% of Guinness or Bass? That's a lot of beer. Forty or fifty thousand barrels.

Saturday, 12 September 2020

Let's Brew - 1879 William Younger 50/-

Yes, I've found a recipe in a book that I haven't published yet. And one of an unknown shilling number in the current bollocky designations.

The Scots brewed to a much larger range of gravities than English brewers. From super strong to super watery.

You might have found beers with gravities as low as 1040º in the English countryside, but not in London. A small provincial brewery wouldn’t have been brewing stuff at Imperial strength as well. Younger spanned the both. From the modestly-strengthed drinking Ales of the sticks, to the headiest beers of the capital.

At the lower end of the Shilling Ales, this would have been considered a Table Beer. More of a refreshment than an intoxicant. It’s a very straightforward beer, with a reasonable bitterness for its strength.


1879 William Younger 50/-
pale malt 8.25 lb 100.00%
Cluster 90 min 1.00 oz
Goldings 20 min 1.00 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.75 oz
OG 1036
FG 1007
ABV 3.84
Apparent attenuation 80.56%
IBU 35
SRM 4
Mash at 154º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 105 minutes
pitching temp 59º F

 
The above is an excerpt from my excellent book on Scottish brewing:







Which is also available in Kindle form:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07Q8XHBL2

Friday, 11 September 2020

Tied houses in the 1890s

Boak & Bailey conveniently got the full version of the 1895 Brewers' Guardian available in Google books. Very useful for my book after next.

A quick flick through its pages resulted in me finding an interesting report on a House of Commons debate about tied houses. Which weren't very popular with some politicians

The debate kicked off with a tied house opponent:

"Some twenty or thirty years ago there were comparatively few tied houses in the country, but statistics now showed that at least 70 per cent, of the licensed houses were held in that way, and the rapid growth of the system was, no doubt, the result of keen competition between brewers. A return published in 1890 showed that in Liverpool some five or six brewery companies held between them no fewer than 504 publichouses, while the tied houses in St. Helens numbered 126, and in Portsmouth 212. In Birmingham one firm alone owned as many as 155, whilst one firm in Bristol headed the list with 287. Quite as bad a state of things prevailed in the country licensing districts. And not only were publicans tied in regard to the sale of beer and spirits, but in many cases the restrictions were applied to mineral waters, matches, and even the sawdust which was used in the spittoons. In some cases the publicans were only monthly tenants of the brewers, and as the licences were granted for a year he claimed that that tenure constituted an evasion of the licensing laws. The system bore very hardly upon the publicans, and in some of the agreements he had seen it was distinctly specified that the brewer or his agent should have the right to inspect the cellars of the house at any hour of the day or night. They were obliged, too, to sell whatever liquor was supplied, whether it was good, bad, or indifferent. In some cases he had to pay from 15 to 20 per cent. more for his liquor than the owner of a free house, with the result that he was compelled to force his trade by illegitimate means very often, so as to get a bare livelihood out of the house. Licences for the sale of drink were granted for the general well-being of the community; but it certainly was contrary to the interest of the public that in a very large number of licensed houses the only beer that could be obtained was the beer which some single firm of brewers choose to sell. In most cases it was bad beer made from the substitutes for malt and hops; and he therefore appealed for support for his motion to the hon. gentleman opposite, who strongly upheld the other night the use of pure beer and of the English barley-grower."
The Brewers' Guardian 1895, pages 130 - 131.

The percentage of houses which were tied was thrown around by a few speakers. Not always the same number. 70% seems to have been the most popular.

Why were tied houses so much more common than 20 or 30 years earlier? That's an easy one: the 1869 Licensing Act, which made it very difficult to obtain new licences and had provisions for actively reducing the number.

At a time when the population was increasing, the number of pubs was falling:

Pubs in England and Wales 1870 - 1895.
Date  Full Beerhouse Total Pubs  population pop. per pub
1870 68,789 49,396 118,185 22,783,541 193
1875 69,184 43,884 113,068 24,045,385 213
1880 69,112 49,597 118,709    
1881 68,632 38,309 106,941 26,046,142 244
1885 67,822 37,278 105,100 27,220,706 259
1890 67,315 36,498 103,813    
1893 67,028 35,809 102,837    
1895 66,750 35,351 102,101 30,451,528 298
Source:
Brewers' Almanack 1912, page 162.

With the number of potential outlets in decline, brewers increasingly tied pubs, either my outright purchase or by loans.

Tying pubs on matches and sawdust? That sounds very Sam Smiths

Thursday, 10 September 2020

Beginning of the end for Barclay Perkins

The 1950s were troubling times for UK brewers. Beer consumption was falling and as a reaction mergers and takeovers were occurring at an increasing pace.

Early in 1955 a proposed merger between Courage and Barclay Perkins was announced.

"Big brewery merger in prospect
Courage and Barclay Perkins

Notes from our City staff — Friday Evening
The preliminary stages of an important brewery merger were announced today. The boards of Courage and Co. and of Barclay Perkins and Co. state that they have agreed in principle to the desirability of a merger by the formation of a holding company to acquire the share capitals of the two companies. An independent firm of chartered accountants, Peat, Marwick, Mitchell and Co. has been instructed to prepare a report with a view to advising the respective boards as to a suitable basis for such a merger.

Issued capital of Barclay Perkins is £2,911,000 and of Courage £2,540,000. At December 31, 1953. assets of the last-named group £13,417,000, and at March 31, assets of Barclay Perkins amounted to £12,948,000. The two groups, whose headquarters are in London, have a large trade there and in the home counties."
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Saturday 12 February 1955, page 7.

What surprised me is how similar in size the two breweries were. Both has assets of around £13 million. Though, with £2.9 million in issued capital compared to £2.5 million, Barclay Perkins was slightly larger in that respect.

With the two breweries so close together on the south bank of the Thames, it doesn't take a genius to work out the likely outcome.

"Both companies earned trading profits of more than £1,000,000 in their last accounting years, and in each ease they were higher than a year before and both increased their distributions. The motive for merging two such strong units is probably the familiar one that the big brewers are all trying to extend the area in which they can sell, in particular, their bottled beers — and amalgamation is a simple way of doing so. In addition. there are several districts in which both companies operate and, therefore, substantial saving in operating costs could be effected."
Birmingham Daily Post - Saturday 12 February 1955, page 15.

The obvious way to make a "substantial saving" was to close one of the breweries.With their trading areas pretty much identical, supplying both sets of pubs from one site wasn't going to be much of a logistical problem.

Yes, Barclay Perkins was profitable, but it was only making a net profit of just around £200,000 - less than it had in the 1930s. And it was operating at well below capacity. In 1955 it produced 228,343 barrels - less than half the 485,431 barrels it churned out in 1946. While it 1912 589,543 barrels were brewed.*

Did the Barclay directors realise what was going to happen? You think it would be pretty obvious to anyone with half a brain. But, having read Anthony Avis's book, it seems many brewery owners were blind to what selling up entailed long-term.  


* Document ACC/2305/1/711/1 in the London Metropolitan Archives

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1837 Whitbread KXXXX


The strongest of Whitbread’s Stock Ales, KXXXX, was real loony juice at around 11% ABV. You wouldn’t be drinking eight pints of it in a session.

The recipe is as simple as that of its weaker siblings: base malt and English hops. But that’s just the way things were in the first half of the 19th century. Crazy strong beers with uncomplicated recipes.

London brewers didn’t stick with the strongest Ales for very long. Both XXXX and KXXXX had been discontinued by 1845. Not that very much of them had ever been brewed. No more than a couple of hundred barrels a year, at most.

I've lowered the FG from the racking gravity given in the brewing record as, after a year or so with Brettanomyces slowly chewing its way through the sugars Saccharomyces couldn't ferment, it would have been much lower when the beer was sold.

1837 Whitbread KXXX
mild malt 22.50 lb 100.00%
Goldings 120 mins 3.50 oz
Goldings 30 mins 3.50 oz
Goldings dry hops 1.50 oz
OG 1099
FG 1025
ABV 9.79
Apparent attenuation 74.75%
IBU 65
SRM 9
Mash at 154º F
Sparge at 165º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 59º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread Ale


This recipe is in my two new books, Strong! vols. 1 & 2 and Strong! vol.2.